Wildcat Offense: More Than The Latest Gimmick

Hamilton BolducContributor IOctober 14, 2009

MIAMI - OCTOBER 12:  Running back Ronnie Brown #23 of the Miami Dolphins prepares to hand the ball off against the New York Jets at Land Shark Stadium on October 12, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Jets 31-27.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Gimmick plays, deception, and all forms of trickery have been scattered throughout the history of the National Football League. For more than a season now, the Miami Dolphins have been carving out a place in “quirky-scheme history” with their take on the spread option offense, and it’s yielding some fantastic results.

Monday night’s game was supposed to be all about “The Sanchise,” Braylon, and Rex Ryan’s chance to shine. This battle of division foes by no means was supposed to be a blowout, but it ended up being all about the Miami offensive assault on a highly regarded defensive unit.

Could it be that Ryan just viewed their offense as one-dimensional and limited?

If he thought Miami’s offensive group would wear its playbook out and eventually succumb to the stacked box, then he was dead wrong. And as it goes on more than a season of using this highly effective offense, this run-heavy attack may be more than a quirk or a fad.

But how long can this continue before the rest of the league wises up and they are forced to go back to traditional sets and personnel? Or more importantly will this lead to other teams building their roster with an idea of moving down the field with double reverses and direct snaps to the running back? Better yet, which teams should embrace this as their primary offense to make better use of their personnel already in place?

Here are a few who could benefit from a little Wildcat immersion. 

1.       Carolina Panthers: The combination of D’Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart has created some magic from these forms. Consider the possibility of a few creative, well-placed wrinkles for All-Pro playmaker Steve Smith and this could stop Jake Delhomme from turning over the ball at a record pace.

2.       Denver Broncos: A stable of solid to good backs could expand Josh McDaniels' offensive ingenuity tenfold. Just imagine Knowshon Moreno in the open field or watch this. It would also mitigate the damage when Kyle Orton eventually unravels by season’s end.

3.       Dallas Cowboys: Imagine Felix Jones’ blazing speed in the open field and Tony Romo not able to throw the game away. Enough said.

4.       Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The only two playmakers are Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward, so it’s in Raheem Morris’ best interest to make the most out of a terrible season. Because Tony Dungy is lurking out there.

5.       Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, Percy Harvin, Greg Lewis, Bernard Berrian, and Tavaris Jackson, with an actual purpose he can’t screw up too badly. So yes a 5-0 team can improve by making a significant change and Brett Favre will still be an important contributor to their deceptive formations.


These potentially scary ground games could gash through highly regarded defensive units. Take it from the baffled look on Bill Belichick last season and Rex Ryan’s perplexed disposition when these two stepped to the microphone to explain their teams thrashing at the hands of the Wildcat. This hybrid offense could be more than just a gimmick. It could be the evolution of the offensive game plan, a couple pages found in every top coordinator’s playbook.